The college football season is finally in full swing and one of the best match ups of the kickoff weekend will be when the Wisconsin Badgers take on the LSU Tigers in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff Saturday night at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX. Although they are two top 15 teams squaring off, both squads have questions marks on either side of the ball as they open up the 2014 season.
Wisconsin and LSU have played twice before with the Badgers losing both contests. But the last time these two faced each other was in 1972, when you could buy a gallon of gas for just 36 cents. Times certainly have changed since then.
Both teams have a big question mark at the quarterback position. While Les Miles has stated that he will use a two quarterback system with Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris, the Badgers situation is a bit more cloudy. Reports surfaced last Friday that Tanner McEvoy won the starting spot of Joel Stave. But head coach Gary Andersen has been mum on the topic this entire off season. Don’t be shocked to see two quarterbacks used for Wisconsin on Saturday night as well.
The Badgers are looking to fill numerous holes on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, while the Tigers look regain supremacy in the SEC. Here are some keys to victory for both teams, impact players and what a win could mean for both teams.
WISCONSIN KEYS TO VICTORY: The quarterback situation may be in flux, but it’s the big guys up front that need to control the line of scrimmage. LSU may have lost some good players in their front seven on defense, but they are still a talented bunch. It’s no secret that Wisconsin will run the ball with Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement, so opening holes all game long will be very important is the Badgers want to be successful.
Badgers young defense must also contain the Tigers offense, especially their own two-headed monster at running back. Both Terrence Magee and freshman phenom Leonard Fournette will see plenty of action.
LSU KEYS TO VICTORY: Much like the Badgers, the Tigers also need control the trenches. Not only do they need to open up running lanes for Magee and Fournette (not like they need much of one anyways), they must make sure whoever is under center stays upright. Badgers linebacker Vince Biegel is a monster and the big guys up front must be aware of him at all times.
Defensively, this group must try to contain Gordon and Clement. You’re not going to completely shut down the Wisconsin running game, but making sure they don’t get beat on a big play will be very key if they want to come away with a victory. No easy task by any means.
WISCONSIN PLAYER TO WATCH: Defensive end Chikwe Obasih is poised to have a breakout season and it may very well start against the Tigers. Although this defensive group is young and inexperienced, I believe they are more talented than people want to give them credit for. Obasih will be key to neutralizing and disrupting the LSU’s backfield.
LSU PLAYER TO WATCH: Although Les Miles has some talented defensive ends, the player I will have my eye on is linebacker Kwon Alexander. Moving to weak-side linebacker to fill the void left by Lamin Barrow departing for the NFL, Alexander will have more freedom to roam around the field. Alexander finished fourth on the team in total tackles last season with 65, but don’t be surprised to see him lead LSU in that category this season.
VICTORY FOR WISCONSIN MEANS: This would be huge for the Badgers if they were able to leave Houston with a victory over a team from the mighty SEC. With a relatively weak Big Ten schedule, a win over LSU could possibly send the Badgers to an undefeated season and in the College Football Playoff discussion. Not to mention a good showing by Gordon could vault his name to the top of the Heisman Trophy discussion.
VICTORY FOR LSU MEANS: A win over the Badgers would certainly give this Tigers team a real boost of confidence heading into the 2014 season. It’s a challenging early season test for Les Miles and his team and it will get them prepared for an always tough SEC schedule. Not to mention a win here could also vault LSU into the College Football Playoff discussion. The SEC can play out a number of different ways. A solid victory over an opponent from one of the Power 5 conferences will really help their case.